Sudan’s transitional authorities and a rebel alliance signed a peace deal on Monday following months of negotiations aimed at ending the country’s decades-long civil wars, but other powerful armed groups have thus far declined to join them.
The deal was reached between the Sudanese government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), a coalition of several armed groups.
Leaders signed the agreement in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, where talks have been held since late last year (2019).
Negotiating an end to the rebellions in Sudan’s far-flung provinces has been a crucial goal for the transitional government, which assumed power after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.
Authorities hope to revive the country’s battered economy through slashing military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.
The story so far
Sudan is currently ruled by a military-civilian government, with elections possible in late 2022.
A cease-fire between government forces and the rebels has been in place since al-Bashir’s ouster.
The televised ceremony was attended by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 following decades of civil war.
Deputy chief of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, General Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, signed the agreement along with rebel leaders.
The deal would grant self-rule for the southern provinces of Blue Nile, South Kordofan and West Kordofan.
Rebel forces would be integrated into Sudan’s armed forces.
The SRF, centred in the western Darfur region, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, is part of the pro-democracy movement that led to the uprising against al-Bashir, but the rebels didn’t fully support the military-civilian power-sharing deal.
Sudan’s largest single rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-North , led by Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu, was involved in the peace talks but has yet to reach a deal with the government.
The group has said if its demands are not met, it would call for self-determination in areas it controls in the Blue Nile and South Kordofan provinces.
Another major rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement-Army, which is led by Abdel-Wahid Nour, rejects the transitional government and has not taken part in the talks.